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Keeping within the temperature limits set by the Paris Agreement on climate action will be a significant challenge. Nuclear power generation may contribute to achieving these targets, however, there are significant environmental, economic and health risks attached. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, this paper explores how nuclear power generation is framed in the Irish print media, and discusses the implications of these frames for how nuclear power is perceived within the context of climate change mitigation in Ireland. Two Irish broadsheet papers, the Irish Times and the Irish Independent were selected for data collection, focusing on Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents. The prevalence of informational and balanced articles suggest that to some extent, an open debate on nuclear is already occurring. Nevertheless, significantly more articles take an antinuclear stance (34% in 1986 and 27.5% in 2011) than pro-nuclear (2.1% in 1986 and 3.3% in 2011), reflecting the lack of public appetite for nuclear power. This may limit the potential for a wider debate to occur within the context of reducing domestic emissions. Considering the urgency of addressing climate change, a full and balanced societal debate on how nuclear power, other energy alternatives (e.g. wind) and the energy sector more generally, can contribute to national climate policy targets may be necessary.
Catherine Devitt, Finbarr Brereton, Simon Mooney, David Conway, Eoin O'Neill, Nuclear frames in the Irish media: Implications for conversations on nuclear power generation in the age of climate change, Progress in Nuclear Energy, Volume 110, 2019, Pages 260-273, ISSN 0149-1970, DOI: 10.1016/j.pnucene.2018.09.024.